Photo: Dimas Ardian / Getty Images
Bad economic data from around the world.First the scoreboard:
Dow: 13,046.1, -78.4, -0.6%
S&P 500: 1,392.7, -10.1, -0.7%
NASDAQ: 3,063.3, -12.0, -0.3%
And now the top stories:
- The bad news pile-on started overnight when China announced that its HSBC Flash manufacturing PMI number came in at 48.1, down from 49.6. A reading below 50 signals contraction. This was unwelcome news, especially following BHP Billiton’s comments earlier this week that iron ore demand was flattening in China. Here Are The Key Slides From BHP Billiton’s Presentation >
- The global market sell-off only deteriorated after the Markit published the eurozone PMI numbers. The composite number fell to 48.7 from 49.3 in February. Economists were expecting the figure to increase to 49.6. Germany’s number was particularly disappointing, falling to 48.1; economists were forecasting 51. The euro and European markets tumbled with Germany’s DAX closing down 1.3 per cent.
- In the U.S., weekly initial jobless claims fell to 348k, which was slightly better than the 350k economists were estimating. However, last week’s number was revised slightly higher to 353k. Indeed, the jobs data sceptics have been getting louder lately. In today’s Cashin’s Comments, Art Cashin revisited the concerns that are causing the discrepancy between seasonally adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted jobs data. SocGen’s Aneta Markowska reminded us that much of the decline in unemployment is due to the drop in the labour force participation rate. This was one of the points Markowska used to argue that a new Fed quantitative easing program could come as soon as April.
- The FHFA house price index delievered a big goose egg for growth. Economist were expecting 0.3 per cent month-over-month growth. To make matters worse, last month’s 0.7 per cent gain was revised down to a 0.1 per cent gain.
- FedEx, one of the most important global economic bellwethers, announced better-than-expected earnings. However, their comments on their earnings conference call were worrisome. It plans to “reduce flight hours, and “park some planes.”
- Two well-known momentum stocks were in the headlines today. Last night, Diamond Foods said it had reached a forbearance agreement with its lenders. As part of the deal, the company’s borrowing rate will be raised and its dividend will be suspended. Shares tanked.
- Lululemon announced better-than-expected earnings. The company hit a milestone, achieving $1 billion in sales last year. Guidance was a bit weak, which caused the stock to open lower. But it staged a nice rally during the balance of the trading session.
- Don’t Miss: NOMURA: 10 Issues That Should Keep You Up At Night >
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